Southern Utah loses a tough battle against Western Kentucky

The Southern Utah University women’s basketball team had their second game of the season against the Western Kentucky University Hilltoppers.

The Hilltoppers and Thunderbirds went head to head for most of the first half. During the second half, despite moments of great effort from SUU, the Hilltoppers got hot and held a comfortable lead through the remainder of the game, notching a win against the Thunderbirds 76-62.

First quarter
The Hilltoppers started strong, taking a 9-2 lead. The Thunderbirds responded with a 8-0 run to put themselves on top with just shy of two minutes and thirty seconds remaining. The rest of the time got competitive as the teams exchanged shots back and forth until the quarter ended with a 14-12 lead in the Hilltoppers’ favor.

Second quarter
Rolling into the second, SUU scored a quick three to retake the lead early on. The Hilltoppers followed this by going on a 9-2 run to put them up 23-17. The dominance of Western Kentucky continued through the quarter, taking a 29-19 lead. With two minutes to halftime, SUU shook off the double-digit lead, answering with a 5-0 run with great passing from Ava Uhrich to cut the lead to five, leaving the Hilltoppers on top 29-24.

Third quarter
Coming out of the break, SUU scored the first points with a quick three. Western Kentucky followed that with a 9-0 run. This hot streak for the Hilltoppers continued, building up to a 20-point lead with five minutes to go in the quarter. This Western Kentucky run was fueled strongly by Acacia Hayes, who put up 21 points in the game. Late in the third, SUU guard Daylani Ballena sparked a Thunderbird run, cutting Western Kentucky’s lead to 13 points. The Hilltoppers held a 54-41 lead going into the fourth.

Fourth quarter
The fourth started electric with back-and-forth scoring. The Thunderbirds found great rhythm in shooting the ball and cut Western Kentucky’s lead to 10 points with just over seven minutes to go in the game. However, Western Kentucky showed resilience and held strongly to their double-digit lead. The last buzzer sounded, securing Western Kentucky’s 74-62 win.

Explosive players
— Hayes scored 21 points, shooting 9/13 and 3/5 from three.
— Ballena scored 18 points with 13 coming in the second half.
— Uhrich had a great all-around performance with 10 points, four assists and eight rebounds.

Key stats
— The Hilltoppers forced 25 turnovers for 34 points.
— The Hilltoppers scored 15 points off the fastbreak, while SUU was held to two.
— SUU shot 41.1% from the field and 21.4% from three for the game.

Up next for SUU
Sitting at 0-2 to start the season, SUU will seek their first win at home against University of Alaska Fairbanks on Wednesday, Nov. 15, at 6:30 p.m. This event can be attended at the America First Event Center or streamed on ESPN+.

Author: Jacob McQueary
Photographer: Anden Garfield
Editor:  Anden Garfield